Wednesday, 3 February 2010

A document so far

The future of SEN – III
The Commission's Second Report

It has involved some difficulty to trace an online version of the Commission's Second Report. but late last night I at last found it, buried without obvious signposts deep and unsung within the Conservative Party's website:

Those whose have any cause to be concerned for the areas that it covers whether by what it says or – probably more importantly – what it does not say, really ought to look at it.

  • This is certainly the most family-oriented document ever put forward as a guide to possible educational ad child-welfare legislation in the United Kingdom – perhaps anywhere in the world. The writers of this Report have clearly listened to the cares of certain parents and taken these very seriously to heart indeed. In this respect it is a most progressive and indeed revolutionary document, with monumental implications, an assertion of rights that parents around the world might wih to follow.

  • Technically, however, in terms of its understanding of child development and education (pedagogy and upbringing) – and the interrelationship between the two – it is from the Stone Age. One cannot blame the Report's authors for this, where might they have heard otherwise? Spot this for yourselves. You might also care to ponder all the details that are promised for inclusion in the Third Report, when it appears. That is where the Devil will appear.
Brilliant parents' (and children's) rights are of little use if they amount only to a right to a primitive and destructive technology (and I do not here mean 'technology' in the sense of gadgets and gubbins, but the technology of  pedagogic sciencey).

I suspect that there is some awareness of this problemat the higher levels of the decision-making process. Tomorrow: something of what further was said at Monday's meeting.


Balchin, R. (Chmn.) (2008) Commission on Special Needs in Education The Second Report. London, Conservative Party.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Andrew for hunting down this second report. I had not previously read it.

    I shall be interested to read tomorrow your further account of the recent Seminar. Perhaps. methinks, I should wait to add comment.

    Having now read the second report, I find that I can largely welcome it, I would wish to ponder further on the following:

    1. I suspect that the sort of thinking evidenced at national level in references to 'free schools', 'the 'Swedish model' and even the American Charter schools model, has in the past 2 years moved substantially beyond that set out in this report, even for special schools.
    2. This is most notable in the Second Report's apparent willingness to leave the funding of special schools with/via the local authority. The case for so doing is poorly argued and unconvincing. On the other hand, the Second Report firmly dismisses the apparent anxiety, even at senior levels, that levels of funding could otherwise get out of hand.
    3. Most curiously, considering the report's radical proposals in other parts, is the failure to grapple with the admittedly huge question of whether there might not be alternatives to the whole paraphernalia of the late-20th century institution of schooling and the powerful vested interests of the education industry and lobby.

    Let me illustrate this last point with one example: conductive education, as I understand it, is a 24/7/365 necessity. And yet in the UK, and no doubt elsewhere, we have backed ourselves into an apparently irrational (in the 21st century) pattern dictated and dominated by school terms and holidays. What disabled children do in the holidays and out of school, remains someone else's problem. To consider alternatives exposes some very radical questions indeed.